The Tampa Bay Lightning selected overage forward Jaydon Dureau with the 147th pick in the fifth round. Dureau marked the second of three overage draft picks the Lightning made during the 2020 NHL Entry Draft joining Gabe Goncalves and Amir Miftakhov. Dureau was passed over in his draft year after scoring just 12 goals and 29 points in 67 games. He stepped up in 2019-20 posting 19 goals and 51 assists for 70 points in 61 games.
A lot of scouts and prospect watchers likely attributed to his boosted numbers to playing with Seth Jarvis who went 13th overall to the Carolina Hurricanes in the first round. Jarvis scored 42 goals. Centering the top line between the two wingers was Reece Newkirk, who put up 29 goals himself and was a 5th round selection by the New York Islanders in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.
The Lightning’s scouts though were able to look beyond just his skilled linemates. What they saw was a playmaking left winger, with vision and hockey sense. Obviously, his going in the fifth round means there are still some questions about him. He’s listed at 5’11” and 174 pounds, so he is on the smaller side.
HockeyProspects.com liked Dureau though ranking him 73rd in their Black Book. In Dureau, they see a skilled two-way forward with strong skating and good speed. They also praised his forechecking, hands, and puck skills as a playmaker. His defensive game is at least decent, which for a CHL player is high praise. He does need to work on his strength though.
Dureau will spend another season in the WHL before being eligible to play in the AHL. Jarvis and Newkirk will also return to Portland next season as well, so Dureau will have another opportunity to put up gaudy offensive numbers next season. The big question marks will obviously come when he transitions to the AHL with the Syracuse Crunch.
Watching highlights certainly doesn’t give you a complete view of a player, since it’s showing the player’s best moments. But watching this video, it’s hard to not see a little bit of Jonathan Drouin in his offensive game. He’s got the vision to be able to make cross ice passes through sticks and bodies. He also shows a little bit of a one timer from the right wing side, though it doesn’t look very natural or like a very strong shot. One of the first highlights though shows Dureau joining Jarvis on a shorthanded score. A highlight late in the video also shows Dureau getting a shorthanded breakaway and wristing the puck in on the blocker side.
As I said before, there’s still going to be question marks in Dureau’s game. If they weren’t there, he would have been a first or second round pick with his production. He’s got another year with Portland, and then will be off to the AHL.
A realistic projection for Dureau is as a bottom six energy winger that can provide some depth scoring, as well as potentially contributing on the penalty kill and second power play unit. How his defense develops will determines where he may end up on a NHL roster. Even though fourth lines have evolved over the years, you still need to be a strong defensive player to play there. The third line leaves a little more room for being not as good defensively as long as your offense is there. The worst case scenario is that he becomes a productive offensive player in the AHL providing depth for the organization.